OA & Lodge History

Check out some of the history behind the Order of the Arrow and our own Lodge!

History of the Order of the Arrow

The Order of the Arrow was founded during the summer of 1915 at Treasure Island, the Philadelphia Council Scout Camp, by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson.  Goodman and Edson wanted some definite form of recognition for those Scouts in their camp who best exemplified the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. Since the Valley of the Delaware was rich in Indian tradition and the site was an island used in bygone days as a camping ground of the Indians, it seemed only natural to base this brotherhood of honor campers on the legend and traditions of the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Indians.

In preparation for summer camp, Goodman read several books on camp. One book impressed him with its description of a camp of brotherhood which has been used to continue the traditions and ideals of the camp from season to season. Goodman and Edson agreed that they would try to establish a program of this type in their camp. As a result, they prepared a simple yet effective ceremony that, in turn, led to the organization of what later to become known as the Order of the Arrow.

In the first year, 25 members were inducted into the Brotherhood. Many of the members wore a black sash with a white arrow on it. The black sash was used because it offered an excellent contrast to the white arrow.

By 1917, news of the organization, Wimachtendienk Wingolauchsik Witahemui, spread to other Scout camps and inquiries began. Goodman spoke to many interested Scouts and Scouters, and as a result, lodges were established in New Jersey, Maryland, New York, and Illinois.

From 1915 until 1921 the Order grew slowly. In 1921, steps were taken to establish the Order on a national basis. The first national convention was held on October 7, 1921, in Philadelphia, at which a national lodge was formed, composed of four delegates from each of the local lodges. Following the convention there was a steady growth in lodges and membership. At the suggestion of the national lodge, the Order of the Arrow became an official program experiment of the Boy Scouts of America in 1922. In May 1948, the National Executive Board, upon recommendation of its Committee on Camping, officially integrated the Order of the Arrow into the Scouting movement.

The growth of the Order of the Arrow through the years has never been based on an aggressive promotion plan. It came because councils believed in the ideals expressed by the Order and voluntarily requested that lodges be formed. The soundness of providing a single workable honor campers' brotherhood, rather than many is evident. Over 1 million Boy Scouts and Scouters have been inducted into the Order over the years. There are now over 183,000 active members.

General History of Miwok Lodge

The Early Years: 1963-1979

In October 1963, the Executive Board of the Santa Clara County Council authorized the reactivation of the Order of the Arrow Lodge. The President of the Council appointed an organizing committee for that purpose. In March 1964, this committee met with Area Advisers to make plans for the new Lodge. On April 24-26 the first Miwok Lodge Ordeal inducted 88 youth and 9 adult members with the help of Machek N’Gult Lodge 375 at Camp Stuart above Saratoga.

In 1971, Miwok Lodge instituted its “Miwok Lives” program to encourage re-registration in the Lodge. A commitment to construct a Lodge building near the sight of the established ceremonial ground at Camp Stuart was made. Construction began in the summer of 1971.

During 1973, a contingent of nine Miwok Lodge members attended the National Order of the Arrow Conference in Santa Barbara. The membership of the Lodge for 1973 grew to over 750 members strong. The Lodge accomplished a phenomenal feat with the distribution of over 1800 copies of the successful 107-page “Where to go Camping” booklet produced by the Lodge. During 1974 the Lodge celebrated its 10th anniversary.

During our nation’s Bicentennial year, Miwok Lodge achieved new standards of excellence. Besides attaining National Standard Lodge for the third year in a row, Miwok Lodge also improved its fantastic Lodge building to a new height of greatness. Other outstanding accomplishments in 1976 included hosting one of the best conclaves in years at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, and formally dedicating our Lodge building on August 23. Our Lodge newsletter, camping promotions, and general Lodge program also accelerated in growth.

1977 showed continued improvement in Miwok Lodge. During the first few months of the year, our camping promotion teams visited a greater number of troops than ever before. At Our Spring Fellowship and Mini-Clave, the Lodge saw a 200% increase in attendance. In addition, Miwok Lodge sent a contingent to the National Order of the Arrow Conference, secured the National Standard Lodge for the 4th year in a row, and received the Lodge Bicentennial Award.

The Middle Years: 1979-1991

Miwok Lodge began the 1980s with many changes; among them the redesigning of the Lodge flap. Most importantly, however, the Lodge changed from a system of chapters to a committee system. This new approach paid off in the extraordinary success of the camping promotion committee and the drastic leap of membership to over 450 Arrowmen. Just two years after the Lodge redesigned the Lodge flap, it was changed once more. This basic design of the flap continued well into the future.

In 1984, the Lodge printed the first of our successful songbooks with nearly 300 pages of well-known camp songs for all to enjoy. Shortly thereafter came the “Where to go Camping” book, published to help troops locate campgrounds. 1984 also marked the 20th anniversary of the Lodge - 1964 -1984. The Lodge issued a special anniversary flap based on the design of the original Lodge flap. The Lodge also won the Section W3A Conclave Award. Miwok Lodge excelled at the Section W3A Conclave and won the Conclave Award.

In 1986, the Lodge returned to the chapter system for leadership experience and local area participation in the Lodge. The Lodge also maintained its committees, as well, which gave our Arrowmen more opportunities for participation in the Lodge. Miwok Lodge hosted the Section W3A Conclave at Agnews Residential Facility and Great America and won the Conclave Award. Over 600 Arrowmen attended this fantastic event. That year Miwok Lodge received the Standard of Excellence from the Western Region. Miwok Lodge also proved itself as the best in the section at the annual Section W3A Conclave by winning the prestigious Conclave Award for the fourth year in a row.

Starting in 1988, our chapters began organizing and hosting district camporees in order to gain valuable experience and do our Council staff a great service. Miwok Lodge has had favorable success at conclaves including being one of two Lodges who have obtained the Conclave Award four times. With claim to the last seven years of dance competition titles at the Section W3A Conclave, the Miwok Lodge Dance Team was happy to accept the first year of a new perpetual plaque in 1990.

In 1991, Miwok Lodge published yet another huge “Nashgohumewaganak” song book, and began work on an expanded “Where to go Camping” book.

The Recent Years: 1992-2010

So much has happened in Miwok Lodge since 1992! We won Most Indian Lodge Award seven times, won the coveted Conclave Award four times, sent a contingent to the National Order of the Arrow Conference six times, and won the prestigious E. Urner Goodman Camping Award three times. Only 2 E. Urner Goodman Camping Awards are presented nationwide at each of the six BSA Regions.

In 1994, Miwok Lodge began using email to send out news, which made it easier for Arrowmen to get news in time for events. We also presented our first Founder’s Awards to four deserving members.

In 1996, Miwok Lodge hosted a very successful Section Conclave at Camp Parks. In 1997, we participated in a whole slough of events, including OA Pow Wow, Spring Fellowship, Section Conclave, Lodge Banquet, Spring and Fall Ordeals, OA Days at Camp Hi-Sierra, Lodge Barbecue, and a Vigil Ceremony.

When we sent a contingent of 12 Arrowmen in 1998 to the National Order of the Arrow Conference at the University of Iowa, the Miwok Legend was entered for the first time ever in the newsletter competition and was named “National Honor Newsletter” and was chosen as number one in the nation! The Lodge also recorded our highest percentage of Ordeal-to-Brotherhood conversions in recent years.

We attended the Section Conclave each year and always had a blast. In 2003, we hosted another very successful Conclave at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, where we once again earned the Conclave Award. We also created a new Fellowship patch that year.

In 2008, the Lodge attended the last Section W3A Conclave at Coast Guard Island (where we earned the Conclave Award). The Sections were redistributed that year, and in 2009 we were in Section W3S.

In 2010 Miwok Lodge celebrated the centennial year of the BSA. The Lodge also hosted the 2010 W3S Conclave at Camp Chesebrough. The conclave was the first completely “green” and Leave-No-Trace conclave in the BSA.